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Jose Quintana says duel with Chris Sale ‘would be awesome’

Todd Frazier, left, Jose Quintana, center, and Chris Sale pose with their All Star jerseys before a game against the Atlanta Braves at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Sunday, July 10, 2016. Todd Frazier will defend his home run derby crown. (AP)

SEATTLE — Jose Quintana and Chris Sale are two starts away from squaring off when the White Sox play the Red Sox on May 30 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Sale’s presence alone, pitching against his old team, will make for one of the more anticipated events of the Sox’ season. Going up against Quintana, who stepped into the role of staff ace when Sale was traded for four prospects in December, presents the best matchup dimension possible for the Sox.

Quintana’s face lit up just thinking about it Sunday morning.

“I know we throw the same day,” Quintana said. “I think that would be a good matchup, and I would like to face him one time. I hope we can pitch on the same day. If that’s possible, that would be fun. It would be awesome.’’

Sale and Quintana, both left-handers and both All-Stars last season — Sale for the fifth year in a row — always have spoken highly of each other.

“He was one of my best teammates,’’ Quintana said. “I played with him a long time. We had a good relationship, and I learned a lot from him. We talked about hitters, and just about the game, all the time.’’

While Sale was striking out 10 Athletics, walking none and giving up two runs in a 3-2 loss Friday in Oakland, Quintana was having his best outing of the season with eight innings of one-hit ball in a 2-1 Sox victory in 10 innings. Quintana hadn’t been at his best early on leading up to that start — his eight innings with one run allowed took his ERA down to 3.92. But he has a 2.38 ERA in his last five starts.

Sale, meanwhile, continues to pitch like a top Cy Young contender, striking out 10 or more in every start but his first. He is 4-2 with a 2.19 ERA and a major-league-high 95 strikeouts.

Quintana has noticed.

“His focus,’’ Quintana said, when asked to cite Sale’s greatest strength. “And his ability to throw the ball over the plate.’’

Chris Sale, right, and Jose Quintana celebrate after a White Sox victory last season. (AP)
Chris Sale, right, and Jose Quintana celebrate after a White Sox victory last season. (AP)

Early exit for Avi

With the Sox leading 8-0, Avisail Garcia was replaced in right field by Willy Garcia. Manager Rick Renteria said it was to give him a break. Garcia was 0-for-3 after going 4-for-5 with two home runs, two doubles and six RBI the night before. He’s batting .350 with eight homers and 34 RBI.

“It’s maturity, it’s confidence,’’ Renteria said of Garcia, who’s breaking out five years after he broke into the majors with the Tigers in 2012. “It’s having a sense that you belong.

“It takes a little time to get comfortable at the big-league level. They still have to earn their stripes, go through the bumps and bruises of developing into who they are, and he’s gone through that the last few years. Hopefully, this is the beginning, a breakthrough for him to propel him to be this type of player.’’

Saladino a bit sore

Infielder Tyler Saladino, who didn’t start for the fifth consecutive game, is taking it easy because of back soreness, Renteria said.

Renteria said Saladino was available to play, but “we’re trying to manage it, calm it down.’’

White Sox at Diamondbacks

Monday: Miguel Gonzalez (3-4, 4.29) vs. Zack Greinke (5-2, 3.09), 8:40, CSN, 890-AM

Tuesday: Dylan Covey (0-3, 7.64) vs. Patrick Corbin (3-4, 4.38), 8:40, Ch. 9, 890-AM

Wednesday: Jose Quintana (2-5, 3.92) vs. TBA, CSN, 890-AM

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